November 10, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Japanese ecommerce solution giant Rakuten will be acquiring the Canadian ereading service Kobo from majority shareholder and founder of the service Indigo.
Indigo is Canada’s largest book retailer and founded Kobo in 2009 to compete with Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s ereaders. The Kobo ereading platform has a catalog of more than two million ebooks, magazines, and newspapers. The company also currently has two ereaders on the market, the Kobo Touch and Kobo Vox, and Kobo apps are available for a wide variety of iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows devices.
Tokyo-based Rakuten will acquire Kobo for a total of $315 million, the ereading service will continue to operate out of its Canadian headquarters in Toronto and will retain its current management team and employees. Indigo expects to receive approximately $150 million from the sale of its stake in Kobo. The company hopes that Rakuten will provide the necessary investment boost to strengthen Kobo’s standing in the ereader market and expand its customer base. Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo, had this to say:
“Rakuten will allow Kobo to meet the demands of competing with the very best players in the world. Notwithstanding the sale, Indigo will maintain a very strong relationship with Kobo, supporting the products and the services both in store and online and directly benefiting from the growth of the Canadian ereading market. The success of Kobo confirms that Indigo is a great brand and a strong platform on which we can continue to innovate and grow.”
Rakuten is one of the world’s leading ecommerce solution platforms with more than 10,000 employees throughout Asia, the Americas, and Western Europe. The company has made a series of acquisitions of diverse ecommerce companies over the past two years including Buy.com, the UK’s Play.com, Brazilian company Ikeda, and European PriceMinister. Michael Serbinis, CEO of Kobo, said the following about Rakuten’s acquisition of the ereading service:
“Kobo will continue its aggressive growth trajectory with Rakuten’s support. We look forward to continuing to innovate, provide the best eReading experience for customers, and expand internationally to solidify Kobo’s leadership position in the global eReading market.”
Indigo’s decision to sell its majority share in Kobo comes after they announced a loss of $40.4 million in the second quarter. Sales in Indigo stores were going down while Kobo sales were going up as more people make the transition from hardcovers and paperbacks to ebooks. Indigo still plans to support Kobo after the sale and carry Kobo devices in its stores. The sale to Rakuten is set to close in early 2012.
October 26, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Earlier this month Barnes & Noble began pulling 100 DC graphic novel titles from shelves in its brick-and-mortar stores.
The decision came after DC Entertainment made an exclusive digital deal with ecommerce solution Amazon to supply graphic novels for the new Kindle Fire. DC fans can still get the comics from Barnes & Noble but will have to order them from the company’s online store. Jaime Carey, Barnes & Noble chief merchandising officer, said the following about the decision:
“To sell and promote the physical book in our store showrooms and not have the e-book available for sale would undermine our promise to Barnes & Noble customers to make available any book, anywhere, any time.”
Many DC comic authors find the bookseller’s decision strange and frustrating. What the sudden action by Barnes & Noble ultimately means for authors is that dozens of their titles will not receive any exposure to fans in 1300 brick-and-mortar stores. Neil Gaiman, author of DC’s “Sandman” series, had this to say:
“I’m biased: 12 percent of the titles that they’ve physically removed were written by me. From my perspective, it’s a ridiculous overreaction [by Barnes & Noble]. The idea that these people [Amazon] have a digital exclusive, therefore [B&N] will give them a physical exclusive, too — I’m not sure it’s a sane business practice.”
In addition to the “Sandman” series, the 100 titles that will now only be available on Barnes & Noble’s ecommerce solution include many “Batman”, “Superman”, and “Green Lantern” comics. In the meantime, Barnes & Noble will be stocking its comic shelves with an increased selection of 2000 AD comics. Titles will include a number of comics written by British author Alan Moore, co-creator of DC’s “V for Vendetta”, such as the well-known “Future Shocks” series.
Barnes & Noble has been moving to compete more and more with Amazon as a one-stop ecommerce solution. Last week the bookseller began selling home products such as cooking utensils online. The thinking behind this decision is that if people are buying cookbooks online, why not sell utensils too?
Five new shopping categories will be added to the Barnes & Noble website including Home and Gift, Consumer Electronics, Toys and Games, Arts and Crafts, and Baby. With this move the bookseller is stepping its competition with Amazon outside of just the book and ereader arena. However, Barnes & Noble won’t be carrying most of these new items in its own inventory, rather it will be taking a commission from third-party merchants.
The deal between DC Entertainment and Amazon to supply digital formats of popular graphic novels exclusively for the Kindle Fire is likely not permanent. DC has stated that it will continue to explore all potential partnerships. The bottom line is that the company just wants to make its comics available to as many fans as possible in both digital format and hard copy.
October 21, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Three major publishers will soon provide authors with access to book sales data online through new author portals.
Publisher Simon & Schuster announced Wednesday the creation of its author portal that will allow authors and illustrators to see data online about the sales of their published material. Authors will have access to the last six weeks of sales data broken down by different types of booksellers and book formats. There will be data for e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook sales.
Simon & Schuster’s author portal will also feature tools for authors to manage online interactions with readers. In addition, the publisher has released a portal for agents that will provide information similar to that stored on the author site.
Two other major publishers, Random House and the Hachette Book Group, also announced Wednesday that they are in the process of creating ecommerce solutions for authors. Hachette’s author portal will be up and running sometime in 2012; Random House has not publicly announced a date for the launch of their site. A spokesman for Random House said that their author portal will feature marketing tools and other information in addition to sales data.
This marks the first time that major publishers have provided authors with direct access to data about their book sales. Previously it could take months for authors to get information about how well their books were selling and they often would have to go through their agents to get data from a publisher. The new sites should ease some of the tension between authors and publishers regarding the availability of sales information.
Back in December 2010 ecommerce solution Amazon began offering authors access to Nielsen BookScan sales data. Nielsen BookScan provides limited data about print sales of books and, through Amazon’s “Author Central” site, authors can track the past four weeks of a book’s sales. BookScan is estimated to report on approximately 75 percent of print sales and does not track e-book sales. Amazon itself keeps track of e-book sales but currently only reports the figures to publishers and not to authors themselves.
The launch of services allowing authors direct access to sales data about their published material means that authors will be notified much sooner than in the past if their books are not doing well. With timely access to sales figures and information, authors will be better able to address problems and come up with a plan to market their books more effectively and boost shopping cart sales. Some of the additional tools and resources that these new author portals will provide to authors are focused on marketing strategies including the use of social media sites such as Twitter, as well as video promotion through sites like YouTube.
October 19, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Ecommerce giant Amazon is set to publish 122 books of a variety of genres this fall. By creating their own publishing line, Amazon is removing traditional publishing houses from the process and making their own deals with authors.
Amazon Publishing will act similar to a traditional publisher, completing all of the editing, printing, promoting, and selling. This will make Amazon both a distributor of products and a competitor in the publishing house market, which is bound to create tension with traditional publishing houses.
Their new project is led by successful publisher Lawrence Kirshbaum and has already signed popular author Timothy Ferriss.
Amazon has been breaking into the world of publishing for awhile and already offers self-publishing platform Kindle Direct. Self-publishing platforms are becoming increasingly popular because they allow authors to keep all the rights to their work and retain higher royalties. Other companies like LuLu.com and Barnes and Noble (PubIt) allow authors to publish manuscripts into ebooks. With more and more people adopting iPads, Kindles, and Nooks there is a shift from print to web-publishing.
Web publishing makes it much easier for an author to get their work out to the public. Electronic self-publishing of ebooks has several benefits including, cost, quality, and readiness. Web-publishing has much cheaper costs of entry than traditional publishing, and if a book fails, there are not many costs to recoup. However, traditional publishing requires money upfront to pay distributors and printing costs. Another benefit of electronic publishing is that everything is immediate; the entire publishing cycle is accelerated with ebooks. Authors can make quick edits of an ebook and they also receive payments for their work quickly.
One downfall of self-publishing is the lack of accessible distribution channels and no professional marketing plan; however, with Amazon Publishing both distribution and marketing will be handled as they are with traditional publishers.
Amazon’s entrance into the world of publishing is causing some to fear the prospect of an Amazon monopoly on the book chain. We’ve seen how they shut down brick-and-mortar stores with their cheap new and used books. They have also sparked the abandonment of physical books in favor of digital downloads for ereaders with the Kindle and Kindle Fire. Now they are expanding into the world of publishing and taking authors out of the hands of publishers. What do you think? Is Amazon becoming a monopoly right before our eyes?
September 29, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
These days tablet devices are hot items for the holiday season, here is a roundup of some of the top contenders on the market for the remainder of 2011.
Apple iPad 2
The iPad is currently dominating all other tablet competitors with a 73 percent market share. iPad users get access to millions of songs, TV shows, movies, and other content available through iTunes as well as more than 90,000 apps available from Apple’s App Store. The iPad 2 has the most rugged specs of any tablet on the market with an A5 processor and up to 64GB of internal storage space. The tablet also has built-in front and rear cameras, a nearly 10-inch touchscreen display, and optional 3G functionality.
Apple’s iPad 2 is priced from $499-$799 based on the amount of storage space, 16GB-64GB, and Internet capability, Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi with 3G. There is no doubt that the iPad is the most versatile and most highly desired tablet on the market. Customers willing to spend a little more for a tablet with high storage space and 3G functionality will think Apple is the way to go when choosing a tablet for their shopping cart this holiday season.
Amazon Kindle Fire
Amazon’s highly anticipated entry into the tablet market, the Kindle Fire, was unveiled Wednesday. Don’t be fooled by the name, the Fire is much more than just an ereader. The tablet allows access to all Amazon content including books, music, movies, TV shows, apps, and games. The current model, shipping November 15, uses Wi-Fi for Internet access and a 3G version has not been announced. A new Fire will come with a free 30-day of Amazon Prime, the subscription that allows access to 11,000 titles of video streaming content and unlimited two-day shipping on all shopping cart orders.
The Fire runs on Android but has a highly customized interface unique to the device. It features a seven-inch touchscreen display with a battery life of up to eight hours for steadily streaming content as well as 8GB of internal storage. There is no camera or microphone built into the device, so no video calls from the Fire. What the Kindle Fire lacks in features, it makes up for with its affordable price, launching at just $199. Users looking for less bang for less buck will likely consider the Kindle Fire, with its access to endless hours of Amazon content, a reasonable choice over Apple’s iPad 2 for their holiday wish lists.
At first glance the BlackBerry Playbook looks a lot like the new Kindle Fire, and there are some definite similarities like the seven-inch touchscreen and Wi-Fi only Internet access. The Playbook also shares some features with the iPad 2 such as built-in front and rear cameras and storage options from 16GB-64GB. The tablet runs on the BlackBerry Tablet OS and has very limited apps available. Research in Motion, the Playbook’s developer, has said that an Android app player will become available for the tablet, allowing access to some Android apps.
The BlackBerry Playbook is available on ecommerce solutions for around $350-$600, depending on the model, but many retailers are slashing the price due to lack of popularity. The Playbook is a nice device for viewing multimedia or browsing the Internet but has very limited access to apps and content. At the current prices, shoppers will most likely bypass this product and opt for the higher utility of the iPad 2 or the affordability of the Kindle Fire.
Barnes & Noble Nook Color
The Nook Color is Barnes & Noble’s tablet and the most upgraded version of the Nook ereader. Like the Kindle Fire, it has a seven-inch touchscreen, 8GB storage, and built-in Wi-Fi. It also has access to Barnes & Noble’s Nookbook store for access to ebooks but doesn’t have the same availability of audio or video content that the Fire or iPad have. The Nook Color only runs its own apps, of which there are less than 1000.
One feature that the tablet has that others don’t is expandable storage in the form of micro SD cards up to 32GB. The Nook Color runs on an Android operating system and uses a customized Android browser. The tablet retails on ecommerce solutions for $249, making it a cheap alternative to an iPad. However, with less functionality and access to multimedia content than its closest competitor in price, the Kindle Fire, it remains to be seen how well the Nook Color does against the competition over the next few months.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9
The Galaxy Tab 8.9 is Samsung’s latest Android tablet running on the Honeycomb OS and is set to ship at the beginning of October. It is similar in size and appearance to Apple’s iPad with an 8.9-inch touchscreen that has plenty of potential for video watching and Web browsing via Wi-Fi. The tablet also allows users access to all of the apps available through the Android Marketplace.
The Galaxy Tab 8.9 has front and back cameras and comes with either 16GB or 32GB of built-in storage as well as expandable storage with an up to 32GB micro SD card. The battery life lasts up to 10 hours of continuous playback time. Samsung’s newest Android tablet will mainly be competing with the iPad for space in shopping carts this holiday season and is priced at $469 and $569 for the 16GB and 32GB models respectively.
September 14, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is preparing to launch an e-book rental service similar to Netflix’s rental model. Users would pay a monthly fee for access to selected publications from Amazon’s e-book collection, and access privileges would be determined by the subscribers monthly rate. Amazon is reportedly currently discussing its plans for a subscription e-library with publishers.
Those sources apparently said that Amazon is considering testing the water by initially offering older titles, and making them available to Amazon Prime customers, who currently pay $80 a year for unlimited two-day shipping and access to movies and TV shows.
Amazon plans to offer a substantial fee to publishers who decide to participate in the e-book rental program, but publishers apparently aren’t thrilled with the idea. The fear is that an e-book rental program could lower the value of their books and impact their relationships with other retailers selling them.
Amazon would be up against some stiff competition in this market, despite the fact that they are well established in the paid e-book marketplace. At the present time, Amazon sells more Kindle books than it does all other publications. For the low-cost e-book crowd, Google currently offers millions of free books as a part of the public domain. Kobo is another mobile app that allows users to read a million books for free. In order to break into the low-cost e-book marketplace, Amazon would have to bring out some exclusive publications for those who use their service, much like Netflix is doing with their exclusive TV series “House of Cards” starring Kevin Spacey.
The big news for this service would be it’s coupling with the forthcoming and much-talked-about Amazon Kindle Tablet. The Amazon Tablet is expected some time this fall, and has been slated by tech experts as the potential iPad killer that manufacturers have been searching for. The tablet is expected to be much less expensive than the iPad, and feature Amazon’s proprietary blend of the Android operating system. Consumers can expect to be able to add the Amazon Tablet to their shopping carts by the time the Holiday season rolls around.
But the new Amazon Tablet wouldn’t just be a hardware attack on the stranglehold that Apple has on the market. Amazon would be taking an even bigger dig at Apple’s popular iBooks application. Even though Amazon offers the Kindle app on the iPhone and iPad, iBooks has been gaining popularity amongst e-book readers. Currently, Apple has signed deals with the six largest publishing houses in the world: HarperCollins, Hachette Filipacchi, Penguin, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster and Random House.
Amazon’s Tablet would allow Amazon Prime users to stream movies, access the web and email, purchase music, shop Amazon’s site, and with this news potentially rent e-books all from within Amazon’s proprietary system. The primary tablet usage for consumers is Web browsing and email, but if a product could somehow allow users to access those mainstays and also add digital content to their shopping cart and keep it all in the same device from the same company, they’d likely find a nice piece of the tablet marketshare.
September 5, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The digital age has brought about many changes. Products that were usually only available in stores are available on ecommerce solutions. Items like books and CDs, which were previously only available in physical form, can now be wirelessly downloaded from remote servers and ecommerce software platforms. The retailers who previously sold these now-digital products have had to adapt or die. Even videogames have been impacted, and brick-and-mortar retailers like GameStop have had to step up their online efforts and diversify their holdings in order to remain competitive in the fluid world of the net.
Another market that has been affected by shifts to the digital has been comic books. We’ve covered different comic book ecommerce solutions before, along with which companies have “gone digital” the fastest, and how effective their efforts have been. DC Comics is the latest comic book publisher to make news in the industry, for a couple of reasons.
First off: the big story – “Day and Date Digital.” In case it wasn’t apparent enough by the name, “Day and Date Digital” means that digital comics are available on DC’s ecommerce solution for purchase on the same day that they come out in the comic book stores in printed form. There are several reasons why this is good – for DC, for comics fans, etc.
It represents progress. Information is information. If your ecommerce solution deals in digital products, then you already know this. You have the option of offering your customers hard copies or digital ones. Digital information can be downloaded quickly (almost instantly in many cases) and from almost any location. Tablets are struggling to find a foothold – they are really a “luxury” device: not as hard-working and functional as a laptop, but more useful and full-featured than a smartphone or other handheld device. However, as far as eBooks and other types of online media go, tablets and ereaders (like the Kindle and Nook, among others) are making them increasingly available and increasingly profitable. Amazon’s sales of ebooks on their ecommerce solution have steadily climbed, outpacing hardcover books, then paperbacks, then all books entirely!
DC shifting its digital comics towards full parity with print versions is the natural progression of the publishing world’s increasing integration with the digital. All books (and comics) these days, become digital at some point in their lives, before publication. Offering them for sale digitally at the same time that they are available in print just makes sense. It doesn’t cost anything extra, considering that they are already digital to begin with, and makes them available to a wider audience right away.
Younger readers who haven’t grown up with the nostalgia of printed comics, but who do read media on digital devices (tablets, etc.) may find this an opportunity to jup into the grownup world of comics. Grownups with tablets and other digital gear who want to de-clutter their lives, and stay current with the latest issues of their favorite characters may also take advantage of the new releases.
Last but not least, the news that DC comics new titles will be available in digital form on the same day as their printed editions is conveniently timed with their company-wide “reboot” of their continuity. That’s right – all the classic characters have all new comics, costumes, backstories, but keeping the most important parts of their core characterizations. Who knows how popular this will prove (comic book nerds are notorious for their hatred of change), but one thing is for certain: the “day and date” availability of all new titles on DC’s ecommerce solutions opens doors for the company that have never been opened before (I wonder if they needed a giant golden key).
September 1, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Reading is one of those activities that bridges the gender gap. While their book interests may vary, men and women of all ages love to read. And the most recent explosion in the popularity of devices like Amazon’s Kindle and the Nook Color has made reading even more popular amongst multiple markets, even kids. But according to the most recent Nielsen reports, women account for an impressive portion of the e-reader population. In 2010, women accounted for 46 percent of all e-reader owners. Today, that number has exploded to 61 percent.
According to Nielsen, the most recent research data confirms the growing popularity of e-reader devices. The number of tablets that women are adding to their shopping carts has grown slightly, from 39 percent of total ownership in 2010 to 43 percent in 2011. Smartphones are another category where the female population was lagging slightly. Last year, women accounted for 47 percent of all smartphones, and today they own right around half of the total number of smartphones in operation.
This news comes at an interesting time for many of the major retailers. In light of the recent TouchPad shopping cart debacle, tablet manufacturers are realizing that appealing to a higher-end, predominantly male marketplace may not be the best approach. As more and more women are adding tablets and e-readers to their shopping carts, manufacturers are looking at appealing to the growing marketplace with hybrid devices.
Amazon is rumored to be preparing its own tablet, which it intends to use to challenge the Apple iPad’s current reign as the number one tablet. According to a Reuters report, Apple has sold over 30 million iPads since the product was released in 2010. The Amazon device is expected to cost far less than the iPad, and will likely appeal to an already established e-reader fanbase who have been using Amazon’s Kindle devices since they were released in 2007. Amazon will also be looking to appeal to a younger crowd than it currently caters to. Right now, eReader owners tend to be a little older, with 30 percent over the age of 55. An Amazon tablet could bridge the age gap, where Nielsen reports just 19 percent of tablet owners are 55 or older.
The popularity of e-readers has also helped to make e-books much more popular. What used to be readable only on laptops in PDF form is now accessible from anywhere in the world. By July 2010, more Kindle books had been placed in users Amazon shopping carts than hardcover books. Six months later, Kindle books overtook paperback books to become the most popular format on Amazon.com. Now, less than four years after introducing Kindle books, Amazon.com customers are now purchasing more Kindle books than all print books combined. What’s even more impressive is that free Kindle books are not included in those statistics. Kindle also recently introduced a Daily Deal style sale on one Kindle book each day. The Kindle Daily Deal features some of the bestselling authors such as Kate DiCamillo.
“Customers are now choosing Kindle books more often than print books. We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly – we’ve been selling print books for 15 years and Kindle books for less than four years,” said Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.
August 31, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
This school year more than any other, it’s all about textbook rentals. A variety of new options have sprung up in recent months, and they are poised to take advantage of the new school year and the huge numbers of students flocking back to schools who are feeling a bit light in the pocket. With the economy in the shape that it’s in, the rise of lower-cost options, be they brick and mortar stores, ecommerce solutions, or a combination of both, is not surprising.
First on the docket is Follet textbook group. They recently doubled the size of their textbook rental system and rolled out smarter electronic textbooks equipped with their new “CafeScribe” technology. Like most textbook rental services, books rented through Follet are about half the price of buying new, and come with a variety of loan periods. However, unlike a lot of textbook rental ecommerce solutions, Follet has their own network of real world bookstores that they manage in the US and also a lineup of Canadian partners. The expansion of rental services comes at a critical time, says Tom Christopher, President of Follett Higher Education Group:
“Student loans are now the largest category of unsecured debt in America, even surpassing credit cards. To help reduce the costs associated with higher education, we’re focused on delivering a spectrum of affordable choices so every student can be successful in the classroom.”
Having their own stores adds a new wrinkle to the textbook rental game, but it’s one that campus bookstores have been adapting to, even as the tech world seemed to get the drop on them. Campus bookstores have been dying a slow death for years. The rise on ecommerce solutions selling new and used textbooks for anything from literature books to CPA school textbooks at deep discounts was something that the old fashioned stores just could compete with. Now they are getting into the textbook rental game themselves, offering reduced price rentals on the same books that online competitors are pushing. The added convenience of getting these books right from their campus bookstore might be enough to shift some users aware from online ecommerce solutions and back into stores.
Additionally there are mixed-application textbook rental offerings. BookRenter.com, for instance, has their own ecommerce solution that connects students with textbook providers and ships the books out at huge savings. However, BookRenter also has deals in place with a number of campus bookstores where the store serves as the pickup point for the student. Everybody wins: the student saves money and the campus bookstore earns money that they might otherwise have lost. Chegg also has options allowing for bookstore involvement.
Electronic textbooks and temporary electronic textbook rentals are also part of this new frontier in the education world. Follet and Amazon both offer electronic textbook downloads through their ecommerce solutions. Different rates and lengths of time are negotiable, and most textbooks are viewable on a variety of platforms: iOS, Android, tablets, PCs, Macs, cybernetic implant – you name it. Follet’s new “CafeScribe” technology makes it easy for users to highlight passages and take notes. They can also do that with any etextbook rented through Amazon – who also allows them to recall those notes and highlighted passages even once the book has been returned.
Highlighting and making notes in the margins has been a staple of the college textbook game for years. While many people would think that highlighting and writing in rented textbooks is a no-no, BookRenter is finding success in letting their renters do just that. Chegg allows renters to highlight, but not write. Either way, there’s a lot of disruption going on in the textbook world!
August 25, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Do you have a Kindle? Read lots of books on your iPad with the Kindle App? Then you’re in luck! Today, Amazon announced the Kindle Daily Deal program, which will feature a different Kindle eBook everyday at a discounted price. Think of it as a Groupon for all the bookworms out there! Depending on the quality of the selected titles (hopefully this won’t be exclusively for the bargain basement/romance novel titles) this promises to be very interesting for feverish readers and deal seekers.
The first book is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo, a Newbery award-winning author. The eBook normally sells for $5.59, but is on sale for 75 percent off ($1.39) for the duration of the deal today. This seems like a great sign of things to come: not only is Kate Dicamillo is a Newberry award-winning author, and the title has received a 4.5-star collective rating from its 332 Amazon reviewers.
This is not a new approach to getting products in shopping carts for the ecommerce solution. Amazon offers a similar program with its Android Appstore, offering one premium app per day for free. Amazon MP3 also offers daily deals, accessible via the company’s Twitter account.
In fact, Amazon has taken a keen interest in the daily deal marketplace, and the Kindle offer is just the most recent development. The ecommerce solution has invested in daily deal service Living Social, and also purchased daily deal ecommerce solution Woot in 2010. They also launched the AmazonLocal deal service in markets including Seattle and Boise. Amazon says the Kindle Daily Deal will be refreshed each day at midnight on Twitter, and on the Kindle Daily Post blog. The deals also appear on the product page for the selected title.
This is also great news for all those lucky shoppers who managed to get a discontinued HP TouchPad into their shopping carts. HP recently announced their plan to pull out of the hardware business, and therefore issued a liquidation notice for its line of Tablets and Smartphones. The TouchPad has a native Kindle App, which essentially turn the product into the cheapest eReader on the market at $99 for the 16GB version. Unfortunately, even keen shoppers and deal hunters who added the item to their online shopping carts have been disappointed by mistakes in inventory management and have since seen their orders cancelled by retailers. More stock is reported to be on the way, although no ETA could be given.
The Kindle is one of Amazon’s top selling products. Early adopters have been familiar with Kindle since 2007, when the very first Kindle came on the market. It started at $399 and sold out in five hours. Since then Amazon has produced major new additions to the line about every two years or so, with interstitial updates (different options packages, international versions, etc.) in the intervening times. Most recently they released a priced-to-own/priced-to-move version of their least expensive model, the Kindle 3 (Wi-Fi only), preloaded with a limited collection of screensaver ads and special offers for a reduced price. Consumers can now add the Kindle 3 to their shopping cart for $114, or the Wi-Fi and 3G version for $139. The item has the most 5-Star reviews of any product for sale on Amazon.
August 11, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
To the clouds!
In a move to take back the control of the revenue generated by its best-selling Kindle app, ecommerce giant Amazon has responded to Apple’s controversial subscription rules by simply not playing by them by launching its app to the cloud.
Back in February, Apple unveiled its much-anticipated subscription feature on its iTune’s ecommerce solution, giving digital newspapers, magazines, and other apps an easier way to broaden their iOS user-base and convert them to paying customers. However, the subscription feature came with some rules that, although have now been (somewhat) amended, seems to still be leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths.
Apple gave very little flexibility with their pricing and how app developers and publishers could actually distribute their content. Specifically, Apple demanded sites like Amazon to sell all content within the application on its ecommerce solution at the same or lesser price of what it sold for outside of the application. To add salt to the wound, companies would still have to give an additional 30 percent cut to Apple, while also being directed to remove any ‘buy’ button within the app that would link to the company’s website or external ecommerce solution for purchasing other app products or services.
The 30 percent cut along with the removal of external links makes sense for Apple but it seems that its subscriptions rules are part of a strategy to keep its users in the Cupertino funnel, cutting off other companies from fully profiting from their own product.
However, Amazon has decided to stop playing nice and launched this week its own Kindle Cloud Reader, a web-based app that allows users to read their Kindle ebooks (both on and offline thanks to HTML5) on Safari or Chrome browsers via their PC, tablet, and even iPad, and expects to be compatible with many more devices in the future.
Joining Amazon in this play to take back their own app revenue is Walmart and The Financial Times who have also created their own web-based apps. It seems many other publishers and app devs would naturally go by way of Amazon in the near future, but it is a risky for those who don’t have a big user base to rely on which, Amazon can afford to do. Based on the freedom web-based apps provides to publishers and app devs, we can expect more web-based apps to come, which begs the question, what is holding other big name businesses from now following suit?
August 10, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
It’s that time of year again! Ecommerce solutions
everywhere are coming out with deals to help kids get the best value on their back to school gear. Barnes and Noble has stepped it up by including $100 in free e-books and study guides with both the Nook Color and their standard Nook.
The books that are included are 12 classic titles that most people read in high school: To Kill A Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, etc. They are also including 12 Spark Notes study guides (I thought the Nook was to to encourage reading?). The purchase doesn’t include $100 of books to your choosing on the ecommerce solution, but it does prevent you from having to go to the library or book store to purchase these required pieces of literature.
Parents are going to love this because for a mere $139 they can give their kids something that will encourage them to read, and hopefully be more fun than reading a traditional paper book. You might miss running your finger over the edges of the pages making them blow that musty paper smell in your face (maybe that’s just me though).
The Nook and Kindle are in a tight race for the e-reader market and it will be interesting to see how Amazon reacts to this hard-to-resist deal…or maybe they won’t. Nobody really knows how the Kindle is doing versus the Nook because Amazon will not release any sales figures. Could it be because they don’t want to rub in how much they’re dominating, or is it because they’re not doing so hot?
The Nook Color has been portrayed as something more than an e-reader which might drive more people to start purchasing it. Running Android makes it more than just a platform to read books on. Do a couple tweaks and you’re surfing the net and downloading apps for around $200.
The Kindle is synonymous with the word e-reader, but Barnes and Noble is stepping up their game with this new $100 in free books offering. Maybe the ecommerce solution giant, Amazon, will offer a deal similar to this in a couple weeks. Oh the consumer-benefits of heavy market competition.
July 25, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The Japanese have a unique ereader/tablet to put in their shopping carts starting late last week. The Raboo (short for RAkuten BOOks, after the country’s biggest ecommerce company) started selling overseas and has a lot of people talking. The Panasonic product will roll out with immediate access to 10,000 books in Rakuten’s online books clearing house, which users will be able to seamlessly slide into their virtual shopping carts and access at their leisure using the sleek combo device.
Originally revealed a couple of weeks ago at an ebook expo in Tokyo, the Raboo tries to blend the seemingly incompatible worlds of tablets and ereaders (not unlike what the Nook Color seems to have been able to do). It runs Android 2.2 with a little over 4 gigs of memory and comes with 16 apps preloaded, but no access to the Android Marketplace to pick up new apps (that could change if they ever decide to release it in the states). That’s right – there’s no US or international release date, so don’t start thinking about thwn you’ll be able to put it in your shopping cart here in the US.
Bridging the ereader-tablet divide is a big challenge for any company, and could be the key to success for some lucky tech company. So far the most popular ebook reading device is the laptop computer. With the prevalence of ebook reading apps (including the Kindle web apps, which allows anyone to read any Kindle ebook on any web-connected device) people have more electronic reading options than ever before. But do they want to read digital books (or magazines or newspapers)?
That seems to be one essential question of the ereader dilemma. Do people think that they need an ereader? While we’re at it, do they think that they need a tablet computer? To some degree, these devices create their own niche by their very existence. Until Apple rolled out a high-powered, well-designed tablet in the form of the iPad (remember how long ago that was?), most consumers didn’t even know that they wanted/needed a tablet. Until Amazon was first to market with their highly functional, highly publicized ereader (with comprehensive ebook sales support systems already in place and an eye for disrupting the publishing world), most people didn’t know that they wanted/needed an ereader.
However, neither of these flagship devices was the first of its kind and a fleet of copycats (predecessors and latecomers) have made their presences known. Amazon is reportedly gearing up to deploy their own line of tablets and cell phones (which will no doubt come with Kindle integration) that will us Android as their OS. Apple, on the other hand, continues to carve out and defend their niche in the face of vigorous competition. People are still putting Kindles, iPads, and tablets of all kinds in their shopping carts. Who knows where all this competition will ultimately take the tech world? One thing’s for sure: without more disposable income for the middle and lower classes, all these tech marvels are going to have difficulty finding buyers.
July 22, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The face of publishing, printing, writing, and distributing the written word is changing. It’s been changing for years. The introduction of the internet was a massive disruption of the usual publishing system. For decades (centuries?) the gates of the publishing world were tightly locked and closely monitored. Independent presses popped up here and there, publishing fringe writers and artists and helping them get their message out and their books into shopping carts. Then the internet allowed any maniac with a Geocities account to post anything that they wanted to the internet and have other people read it. Next e-zines sprung up, paralleling the ‘zine movement of the 80s to today where low-to-the-ground publishers printed and distributed low-quality, stapled-together pages of content.
Now Amazon has added a layer of legitimacy by offering several different self-publishing avenues, including “Kindle Singles” and various self-serve options that have even led to the first ever million-selling independent writer on Amazon. John Locke managed to get over a million readers to put his mystery novel into their online shopping carts. Him and other writers like him have proven that there is life after the publishing machine is reduced to dust.
However, some types of publishing were/are much slower to change and evolve. Textbooks being one of them. Deeply mired in an academic and commercial relationship that can only be described as incest, publishers relied heavily on colleges mandating purchase of their newest books, deals with professors, and lunches with industry reps, paid for by the companies. Only recently have we seen textbooks even making the transition to ebook format. If we as a country can ever get this debt thing under control, get more disposable into the middle and lower classes (doubtful) and get every school kid and college student a tablet, we might truly see a shift towards more comprehensive e-textbook adoption.
Amazon is helping push e-textbooks forward a little at a time. Starting this fall they say, tens of thousands of textbooks will be available to rent via their Kindle devices and apps. With the recent price reductions and special offers on Kindles, it’s easier than ever for anyone to put on in their shopping cart.
The textbook rentals could (eventually) offer significant savings over purchasing textbooks, even given the return (however small) that students usually get from selling their books back at the end of the semester. The major drawback in Amazon’s current rental system is that it’s month-to-month and doesn’t offer super-huge savings now (an intermediate accounting book costing $109.20 to buy, can be rented starting at $38.29 – how long is that?). As the program expands, expect to see greater cost savings and “semester” plans.
Meanwhile, on the subject of another dying medium, newspapers might be getting some help from the Kindle as well. As more and more people drop their regular print newspaper subscriptions and stop putting them in their shopping carts at brick and mortar stores (or stopping by their local newsstand or gas station), news readers have turned to other sources for their daily info fix.
One source is the Kindle’s New York Time’s subscription service, which currently boasts 57,000 subscribers. Now that the Times has erected a pay wall, many subcribers with Kindles may be thinking: “well, I’m going to pay for this content one way or another, I might as well get all my money’s worth.”
Either way, more subscribers (in any form) means more revenue that newspapers can count on. Subscribers were and still are the main determiner a newspaper uses to decide how solvent they will be for the future. If numbers continue to grow we could see a new era of prosperity for the Old Grey Lady (and all those other newspapers whose nicknames I don’t know!).